Photo courtesy of Moosejaw Bravo Photography.
“Witnesses to a Changing West: The Golden Eagles of Greater Yellowstone’s Bighorn Basin” is a film that will educate the public about golden eagles and a region that is often overshadowed by more well-known areas like Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. The film will inspire people to care about the golden eagle and hopefully to get involved in conservation of the birds. There is a lot of interest in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, sagebrush-steppe habitat, and golden eagles and the challenges they are facing.
Once the most widespread native environment in North America, the sagebrush-steppe is now among its most threatened. Sagebrush-dominated landscapes, like those in the Bighorn Basin, have been disappearing, shrinking, and changing during the last several decades. This iconic western landscape that once dominated much of the American West is often overlooked and undervalued. It’s subtle, stirring beauty is in stark contrast to the dramatic Rockies.
By 2080, the golden eagle is projected to lose 41 percent of its breeding range and 16 percent of its non-breeding range. Whether this apex predator will keep pace with an increasingly fragmented breeding range is uncertain.
The golden eagle is a barometer for detecting environmental integrity and changes. To help prevent significant population declines and crisis management in the future, it is important to document and better evaluate the status, population dynamics, and ecological role of the golden eagle.
Widespread conservation of wildlife and habitats is contingent on public support, which our film will generate. The 52-minute documentary film will feature the story of Dr. Charles Preston, the golden eagles of the Bighorn Basin, and Native American traditions and beliefs centering around the raptor.
Scenes will include nest sites, including accessing via rappel; eagle banding, placement of GPS transmitters, blood draws, oral swabs, etc.; collection of prey remains; museum work, including analysis of prey remains; threats to golden eagles like habitat loss, disturbance, collisions, electrocution, poisoning, poaching; plant life and other wildlife of the Bighorn Basin; Native American rock art and eagle trap historical site; golden eagle rehabilitation; and wind turbines, including technology to protect golden eagles.
To weave together science, history, and compelling storytelling to reach the hearts and minds of viewers, prompting an emotional connection with golden eagles that will compel people to care about the birds’ conservation.
Fundraising: January - May 2019
Filming: May 2019 - June 2020
Post-production/Editing/Rough Cut: Summer - Fall 2020
Distribution: Late Fall 2020